Caribbean runners populate start lists for new season

MONACO,  CMC – Top Caribbean athletes have been popping up in the starting lists for meets in the early part of the IAAF Diamond League season.

Organisers of the Shanghai Classic in China announced on Wednesday that Olympic double champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica will be one of eight Olympic finalists that will appear in either the women’s 100 metres or men’s 200m on May 13, with four past or present Olympic champions among them.

Her main rivals are expected to be Olympic silver medallist Tori Bowie, plus World and Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta, Olympic 100 and 200 finalists Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad & Tobago and Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast.

The high-class field also includes Thompson’s compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic 100 champion and 2011 World champion over the distance.

Curaçao-born Netherlands sprinter Churandy Martina and Jamaica’s Julian Forte will face the starter for the men’s 200, while veteran Kim Collins of St. Kitts & Nevis will be one of two former World champions to meet in the non-Diamond League men’s 100.

Organisers of the Prefontaine Classic in the city of Eugene in the American state of Oregon have announced that former World junior 400 metres hurdles champion Janieve Russell of Jamaica is down to take part on May 27 at the Hayward Field track.

The 23-year-old Russell reached the final of the women’s 400 hurdles at the Olympics last year in Rio, Brazil, where she finished seventh, but she faces a field loaded with top contenders.

Olympic 400 hurdles champion Dalilah Muhammad of the United States will lead the charge in the race, which also includes Czech Republic’s Zuzana Hejnova, the 2013 and 2015 World champion and a two-time Diamond League series winner.

They will be joined by Denmark’s Sara Petersen, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist, who will be racing in the United States for the first time. The reigning European champion clocked her 53.55 lifetime best in Rio.

American Ashley Spencer, the Rio bronze medallist, fills out the 2016 Olympic podium reunion.

Organisers of Doha meet said the men’s triple jump promises yet another exciting competition when all three Rio 2016 medallists – Christian Taylor, Will Claye and Bin Dong – meet again.

American Taylor, whose parents are from Barbados, became the youngest back-to-back winner of Olympic triple jump titles last year. The 2015 world champion has won the last five successive overall IAAF Diamond League titles and will be looking to win his third Doha Diamond League crown.

His American teammate Claye, who finished runner-up in the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Olympic Games, and China’s Bin Dong, the reigning World indoor champion, who jumped just one centimetre short of the Asian record in Rio to claim the bronze, are likely to pose his biggest challenge.

The men’s 100 will produce a line-up that features sprint legends and emerging stars headlined by American Justin Gatlin and Canadian Andre de Grasse, as well as Asafa Powell of Jamaica and Collins.

Kerron Clements, the Trinidad & Tobago-born, reigning Olympic men’s 400 hurdles champion of the United States, will renew his rivalry with Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Bonface Mucheru of Kenya and face new sensation Abderrahman Samba.

The 21-year-old Samba of South Africa stunned the track world last week, when he ran a world-leading time and personal best of 48.31 seconds in only his third trip over the distance.

2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar

May 5 – Doha, Qatar

May 12 – Shanghai, China

May 27 – Eugene, United States

June 8 – Rome, Italy

June 15 – Oslo, Norway

June 18 – Stockholm, Sweden

July 1 – Paris, France

July 6 – Lausanne, Switzerland

July 9 – London, United Kingdom

July 16 – Rabat, Morocco

July 21 – Monaco

August 20 – Birmingham, United Kingdom

August 24 – Zurich, Switzerland

September 1 – Brussels, Belgium

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